Google App Maker will shut down in 2021
By now, it should come as no surprise to learn that Google is shutting down one of its own services. The list of the Google graveyard is long: Google Reader, Inbox, Google+, Talk, Hangouts, Allo, Picasa… and it goes on and on. The company is particularly pedantic when it comes to shutting down its services if it sees that their usage is not as high as it should be. Now, it has announced that Google App Maker, a GSuite service for enterprise users, will shut down on January 19, 2021.
Google App Maker was announced in December 2016 for GSuite users. GSuite users pay for productivity and storage solutions, and Google makes several GSuite-only services, such as the enterprise-oriented Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet. App Maker was a tool that let enterprises build applications without writing much code, thanks to templates and a drag-and-drop feature for UI elements. It could be used to build internal tools. After a preview announcement in 2016, it was launched as a stable release in 2018. Google’s argument was that enterprises shouldn’t have to worry about code to build apps for internal use. It seems that GSuite users didn’t embrace the service, however, which has led to the expected result of it being shut down.
Google states that “due to low usage, Google App Maker will be turned down gradually over the course of 2020 and officially shut down on January 19, 2021”. Administrators will need to review App Maker usage in their domain. Administrators, end users, and developers are impacted by this announcement.
Existing apps will continue to work today even though App Maker is no longer under active development. Starting April 15, 2020, however, users will no longer be able to crate new App Maker apps, but will still be able to edit and deploy existing apps. Starting January 19, 2021, existing App Maker apps will stop working and users will no longer have access to them. App Maker data stored in Cloud SQL will remain unchanged and will follow the policies established by users’ GCP account.
Google also states that because of the specific source code used for App Maker, users can’t directly migrate their apps to another platform, which probably won’t make the low amount of App Maker users happy. Google recommends AppSheet as a replacement to automate complex business procedures. AppSheet was acquired by Google two weeks ago, and as it supports Cloud SQL databases (App Maker data is also stored in Cloud SQL), it allows users to build an application on the existing database tied to their App Maker app.
On the other hand, App Engine is recommended by Google as a replacement of App Maker as an app building tool. It’s a fully managed platform that can build and deploy Google Cloud Platform (GCP) apps. App Engine applications can be built on top of the existing Cloud SQL database tied to a user’s App Maker app. Finally, for data collection, the company is recommending Google Forms as a replacement, noting that it has many new features that weren’t available at the time of App Maker’s launch.
Google advises businesses to delete their App Maker apps if they no longer use them, while noting that App Maker data belongs to the user’s organization. Data composing the App Maker app itself is exported from within the App Maker editor, and this export functionality will work until January 19, 2021. The company says that it recently emailed the primary administrator in users’ domains and provided a CSV file with the list of the App Maker apps being used in the user’s organization, with the list including the application name, creator name, last modified data for each app, and a link to the user’s admin console with application-specific usage statistics and project information.
App Maker was a good idea on paper, but as with so many Google services, it didn’t achieve a lot of popularity. It remains to be seen whether Google’s acquisition of App Sheet—billed as a no-code mobile application building platform—will turn out to be a similarly doomed venture.